Transforming Wounds Into Scars Through Radical Self Love
By Mallory Bales
“When I look a certain way I am lovable”
“When I have an open heart I am lovable”
“When I am articulate I am lovable”
“When I am perfect I am lovable”
Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, welcome to the experience of being human! Humans are seduced by the belief that certain emotions and parts of ourselves are more lovable than others. We may feel once we achieve a certain status then we’ll be worthy of love and belonging. Many of us are terrified of our shadows because society teaches us that there is something inherently wrong with us if were aren’t ‘happy’ or ‘stable’. We may believe that we are ‘bad’ when we feel bitter, sharp, shut down, triggered, or angry. However, I know that being ‘whole’ includes both the shadow and light aspects of our being. Our flaws are just as lovable as the idealized parts of ourselves. As poet Rumi states, “The wound is where the light enters.” This open wound is an invitation to heal and put radical self love into practice.
It is difficult to embody the ‘higher version’ of ourselves if we aren’t willing to explore accepting ourselves exactly how we show up in our raw expression.
In some spiritual communities we may hear invitations to cultivate only ‘love and light’ as the path to our higher-self. I believe that the higher self is attained through radical self acceptance. What could be ‘higher’ than unconditional, radical self love! You see, when we place certain parts of ourselves on a pedestal we end up rejecting the others and they are suppressed into the unconscious. Our unconscious is the shadow realm. These parts will continue to surface to our conscious awareness, aka the light, until they are integrated and held. Radical acceptance of our imperfections is expansion. It is light. When we allow whatever is presenting itself to be there without resistance, it organically shifts and transforms. The warmth of acceptance is like the beaming sun shining it’s rays on a frozen iceberg. The iceberg, or unprocessed memory, in our nervous system begins to melt into fluid energy. From this space other parts of ourselves are discovered like a hidden treasure chest in the depth of the ocean.
The light of our awareness is the same magic which allows the beast to transform into beauty.
In the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, the beast represents the shadow and Belle represents the light of our loving awareness – the true self. There was a spell casted over the prince and Belle was forced to stay with him. At first she rejected his ‘ugliness’ which only made him act more vicious. Once she fell in love with him for who he was the spell was broken and the beast transformed into beauty. While I am not a fan of the whole “stay with a man until he treats you better” rhetoric often told on the surface of fairytales, if we look deeper, this is an archetypal story of the alchemy which happens within the human psyche when we cast love to our darkest shadows and deepest flaws. We don’t have to like them. We don’t even have to love them. We just need to be willing to recognize how worthy they are of our acceptance.
It may feel challenging to accept our inner beast because we see it as something to be tamed, suppressed, or locked away.
Or perhaps we feel overwhelmed by the shame of having a wild and unchartered territory within us at all. Our shadow holds wounds from the past which were left unprocessed in the nervous system. When we experience pain that goes beyond our window of tolerance (our ability to contain our experience with regulation) it then gets locked into the amygdala (or fear center in the brain). Life will continue to trigger us so that these unprocessed memories, aka shadows, can heal until there is no charge. The big misconception about our shadow is that it is ‘bad’ or ‘unlovable’. We are taught that it needs to go away, or the worst, ‘be destroyed’. Is this how we would respond to a baby crying out to be soothed and comforted? The shadow is merely a cry for emotional attunement. It longs to be held. It is a call for radical self-love.
The parts of ourselves we often reject are not just pieces of our hurt inner child.
They are a mosaic of the wounded child within our mother, grandmother, and ancestral line. When these shadows are not integrated (or held with love) they continue to get handed down from one generation after the next. The child within is a mirror of the collective pain. We are a host for all of the collective wounds. Every time we choose to meet our shadow with kindness, we are quite literally healing the collective psyche. We are embodying the Divine parent who loves all of their children’s the same no matter how they act or feel.
We intimately know and embody our Divinity as we lean into radical self love. Self love is the medicine which heals our bloody wounds and transforms them into beautiful scars.
It restores the sight of our intrinsic wholeness. We are always whole within every experience no matter how raw, shattered, and dark it may feel. If we can begin to see our shadow as an innocent child we realize we were never broken and don’t have to be ‘fixed’. We were perfect all along because perfection is our loving awareness. Remembering radical self-love is the magic which transforms beasts into wild beauty and shame into sovereignty. It is the miracle which reminds us that we are and always were lovable.
Do you desire to cultivate a sense of radical self-love but don’t know where to start?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mallory Bales | Volunteer Contributor
Mallory Bales is a feminine embodiment life coach for womxn in recovery. She is extremely passionate about helping womxn discover the sovereign goddess within and live with more ease. Mallory studied religious studies and contemplative psychology at Naropa University and is currently attending their mindfulness based transpersonal psychotherapy graduate school program.
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Thank you so much for this wonderful article, @Mallory Bales!
The fact that you pointed out that we are ‘seduced’ by this belief that only certain emotions and parts of ourselves are more lovable than our entirety hit me especially hard!
For years I dictated that only ‘this-or-that’ was my strong suit, rather than my entire self.
We aren’t born with this belief, just like we aren’t born hating only certain parts of humanity while loving others. It’s a belief we develop over time, a learned one – a sick belief – one that we, that anyone, can make well over time.
So thank you.
Courtney @ Your Permagrin
Deeply grateful it resonated with you! Thank you for sharing your reflections, so powerful.